Screening for alcohol and drug use is random – it is NOT mandatory for every flight. How many are not caught?
Under FAA regulations, pilots are prohibited from consuming alcohol at least eight hours prior to flying, and their blood alcohol content level cannot be higher than .04 percent. However, FOX News reports that between 2010 to 2015, according to FAA records, 64 pilots were caught violating the alcohol and drug rules, and in 2015, 38 pilots were among 1,546 personnel who tested positive for illegal drugs.
On average, one U.S. pilot per month is caught trying to fly a passenger-loaded aircraft while over the legal alcohol limit for flying, says Peter Bartos, a retired military pilot. Bartos insists that ALL commercial airline pilots should be required to blow into a breathalyzer drug tester before every flight, because the trend of drunken pilots is climbing, not decreasing.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“The general public probably has no idea that this abuse is occurring with such regularity.” – Peter Bartos, retired military pilot[/pullquote]
According to the FOX News report, the FAA opened 1,001 investigations into pilots in that year alone, and ultimately revoked 38 pilot licenses and suspended another 46.
Incidents among pilots relating to drunkenness and crime include an American Airlines pilot who flunked two sobriety tests before an early morning flight out of Detroit, another Alaska Airlines pilot who flew from California to Oregon, and back again, all while drunk, and another from United Airlines, who allegedly moonlighted as a pimp running brothels in Houston and was just apprehended March 25. Yet another pilot was caught trying to smuggle 60 bags of drugs to Houston from Columbia.
“Drinking is not illegal, but operating under the influence with an aircraft full of passengers certainly is,” Bartos said.
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